My Beef With The New Acura NSX

I really don’t know what to make of the new Acura NSX, which at last, after two years of being paraded around the world, showed up in production guise at the 2015 NAIAS.

On one hand, it ticks all the right boxes you expect from a 21st century supercar these days: it looks wedgy, it’s a hybrid, its engine is turbocharged, the instrument binnacle is digital,  and there are more touchscreen functions and buttons that you can shake a stick at.

Now, here comes the but…

First of all, the tech package: it’s being touted as a technological masterpiece, with a twin-turbocharged V6 and an electric motor powering the rear wheels and a couple of electric motors at the front, which makes it all-wheel drive.

I’m sure I’ve seen this concept before. Oh yes, it must have been the BMW i8. Sure, the internal combustion cylinder count is half that of the NSX and we don’t know the performance figures of the Acura, but even if they beat the BMW (as they probably will), I doubt that this matters much in the real world.

Then there’s the transmission. Dual-clutch gearboxes are obviously mandatory on every new supercar these days but it’s a nine-speeder. Good for consumption and low-low CO2 emissions, bad for when you’re in the mood for changing manually. In my book, that’s at least a couple of cogs too many.

Let’s set them aside as nit-picking, if you will. The beef is with Acura/Honda professing that it is channeling the spirit of the first NSX. Sorry, but I, for one, don’t see it.

The original NSX had a lean shape like nothing you had ever seen before. Its 2015 successor seems like Acura’s design team sat at a table, looked at all the supercars launched in the past few years and started picking up styling cues. Lamborghini Aventador exhaust, anyone? Lexus LFA rear air outlets? Maybe throw in a Ferrari 458 Italia-like profile for good measure? Oh, and those rear lights that are supposed to remind us of the original? They look like Aston Martin’s to me (pick a model, they’re all practically the same).

I am pretty sure it will more than stand a fair chance against its competitors. It may even run rings around them, which will be quite a feat as the bar has been set too high already.

Something is missing, though. I guess that “something” is a feature that will set it apart from its rivals. The first NSX was the supercar that taught Ferrari et all how supercars should be made and how they should handle. What does its reincarnation, other than the name, bring to the ring?

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  • It looks like an updated Audi R8. Ford GT stole the show. Hoping GM pulls out something big

    • Kash

      doubt they will since they just released the C7 vette, even with the super early test mules for the mid engine vette, they aren’t anywhere near ready to release even rough drafts of sketches for the design. the best thing we can hope for is an ultra luxury Volt based on the Impala or Malibu for size.

    • TheBelltower

      I’d take the design of the R8 any day over this.

  • Craig

    THIS is no NSX. The original was nothing more than it needed to be. It didn’t even have power steering. This new one is a video game. Unnecessarily complicated. It’s going to be one of those ‘only a fool would own one after the warranty expires’ cars. And that’s too bad.

    • Jake

      The original car was pretty much the pinnacle of technology when it was released, much like this car. Had the original engineers had access to hybrid systems, 9-speed transmissions, etc. I’m sure they would’ve implemented them.

      • Craig

        Lucky for us they didn’t.

      • NG212

        People don’t get that the point of an NSX isn’t to be an analog sports car. It’s to be an advanced one.

        • Bo Hanan

          This NSX was done wrong. The LFA was done right in that it was a limited special that was priced as such and not a regular production model.
          You will not see very many of this car and there will not be a rise in value
          like the LFA.
          TT-V6 Hybrid is pedestrian at best.

          • NG212

            I’m pretty sure Acura doesn’t need your support or approval.

  • Shobin Drogan

    Ohhh this car is so underpowered, Ohhh this car is so slow, Ohh a flappy pedal not a manual…
    Guess what, the old NSX was never fast, it was never a shouty looking car, it was never meant to impress anyone on paper, but it still blew everyone’s minds and it held its value much better than the GTR of the same era. Its a shame it doesnt have manual but so does many cars these days. All the old NSX ever was, is modern, reliable and cheap to run, but fast enough for 95% of people out there.
    The guys from Everydaydriver have always said this and it is always true ‘you can’t drive a spec sheet’ I’m not jumping to any conclusions till a proper review from Motor trend or autocar is made.

    • TheBelltower

      The old NSX also didn’t sell. I’m not sure what you’re thinking “cheap to run” and “modern” means. The original NSX chewed through $1600 worth of tires every 10k miles and had no power steering.

      • Shobin Drogan

        Sorry but that is a very silly thing to say, any car will chew through $1600 of tires if you are going to drive like an idiot the first 10k miles. I could say the very same thing about the ford gt, and corvette C6 and many many other cars. In fact they cost so much more to replace the tires. The NSX is very cheap to run, the engine can be serviced at a regular honda dealer, the fuel consumption is fantastic.

        • TheBelltower

          The estimated life for the tires was slightly over 10k. If you drove aggressively, then less.

          • Astonman

            I had a NSX Targa from from 1999 until late last year. i didn’t drive aggressive and replacing tires every 10K miles is accurate for the rear tires only. They would wear out on the inside. You had to pay attention because the outside would look brand new. In the beginning, I’d average 25 miles to a gallon. Low end grunts was non existent until 3000 rpm and then it would sing. It was inexpensive to maintain. To replace a new clutch was roughly $1500 to $1800. It was a beautiful car. The new car does not get me excited like the first.

          • TheBelltower

            Exactly. It was a judgement call whether or not to replace the fronts. Fresh front tires certainly make unassisted steering less awful. I really didn’t enjoy driving it around town because the steering was such a beast and the visibility was lousy. The S2k’s torque curve had similar driving characteristics, but was more modern and fling-able. It wasn’t as pretty as the NSX, but much more satisfying IMHO.

          • Astonman

            Mine had power steering. I had no issues with the visibility. I especially liked the view of the front from the seat. Felt I could see everything only a couple of feet in front of me – just the opposite of my C7. Drove my brother in laws’s 2010 911 the other day and looking out that windshield reminded me of the NSX. What I don’t miss is the lack of torque.

          • dinn

            Bear in mind that even avarage hot hatch needs new tyres after 10k miles. At least for a front axle.

  • Kash

    You ask what the NSX brings to table so i ask, what does the 458? a mid mounted v8 with curvy styling? or the Aventador? Edgy styling with a V12? Aside from the 918/P1/LaFerrari and Veyron, what do any supercars or even sports cars bring to the table that no one else has? What cutting edge tech does the Corvette have that the Viper doesn’t? What does the Viper have the vette doesn’t? Other than design and performance figures, what do these cars have that the other doesn’t? All of these cars do have 1 major thing in common though, heritage. Maybe not in the exact model, but all the brand’s they represent have massive amounts of heritage. To sit there and ask what the NSX brings to the table and not turn around and ask the same for any other sports/super/hyper car is hypocritical. If anything, the NSX brings a hybrid V6 system that the vette, viper, 458, veyron, i8, and all those don’t bring. Yes it’s a hybrid system, but it’s bigger than BMW’s and smaller than Porsche’s, Ferrari’s, and McLaren’s.

  • Roiett

    Really? Really? You know nothing about this car yet you’ve already thrown it under the bus. If they’d come with an out of date V10 (ala LFA too late and over priced), you’d have beat them up for that too. I’m guessing it will catch the spirit of the original in being competitive with its competition yet much better priced, easier to own, and drive than other super cars. The NSX never beat its competitors on the track but it’s was the approachable way it dragged super cars into the realm of drivability. Lamborghini, Ferrari, even Porsche owes Honda a debt for forcing them to up their game. It’s a different market now. I’m sure this car will do just fine.

  • InSynergy

    Umm… we can’t blame too much til there’s a review. Besides, there’s styling cues, styling cues everywhere.

  • NG212

    Obviously I disagree.

    This car only has to succeed at two things — being fun-to-drive and pleasing its owners. It doesn’t need to start a revolution. It just needs to be advanced. And while its tech does not impress you, it’s seriously impressive.

    I didn’t realize that just because the i8 already exists (since last year), all other hybrid sports cars are irrelevant. (BTW, some reviewers don’t even think the i8 is a sports car — just sporty.)

    I don’t remember us all saying the McLaren P1 was irrelevant because the Porsche 918 was forthcoming. Nobody said Ferrari shouldn’t have bothered because there were two similar hypercars available.

    What are you going to say when the hybrid GT-R and Supra arrive to challenge this? Why do tech-heavy sports cars need competitors? Why do they need to exist?

    I don’t want to question the credentials of fellow enthusiasts, but when I see a new supercar — any new supercar — I bow down.

    Great of you to write a thought-provoking post, but you’re wrong. The automotive industry and the world are better off with the NSX in it.

  • Lucius Fox

    If this were any German Offering with exact same specs etc.. Everyone would praising & loving ! It’s causes “beef” because it’s not Audi , BMW or Merc ..period! Ya’ll all do the same to Lexus

  • thisguyhere

    the car just seems like it arrive a bit too late. i mean they had a commercial almost 2 years ago talking about it. it just seems like we HAVE to be excited about it now. if it came out last year right when the i8 came out, i think they could’ve kept the excitement going. the ford gt being revealed at the same time doesn’t help.

  • TheBelltower

    The original NSX was all hat and no cattle. It was a beautiful car that underperformed and Honda couldn’t give them away. In spite of what the fanboys say, it was a pretty lousy car for what it was supposed to be. The new one was clearly designed by committee that “ticked all the right boxes.” The one thing that we can be sure of, it’ll haul. But so did the LF-A, and two years later Lexus still has an inventory of those unsold. Compare that to the jaw-dropping response to the Ford GT. Good design matters.

    • Kash

      Well, the LFA was only made for one year, 500 units, and only as a 2012 model year. Now the Lexus website says that “All 500 units sold” and Toyota even came out and said “all 500 units have been sold.” So i don’t know what “inventory” you’re talking about? maybe you’re looking at the last 20 or so made in December which would’ve been up for purchase after their leases were completed (Toyota only allowed them to be leased for 2 years and then they would be able to be purchased) and some customer didn’t want to buy them after their lease was up? So, i mean, technically they might have some “unsold” but that might be because they’re under lease or returned at the end of one.

      • TheBelltower

        As of last month, LF-As remained new and unpurchased at dealers.

        • Kash

          where’s your source?
          You know what, don’t bother. I did a quick search using Autotrader and searched for “new” LFA’s and found 15, now most of them didn’t have pictures or mileages so i’m not counting them, there were a couple that had pictures but their mileages were like 200, 1k, 2k, 3k, etc. and then there were used ones with one previous owner, and 100, 157, 128, etc. miles. So if dealers are trying to pass used LFA’s with 2 and 3k miles off as “new” that’s shady and if you’re believing that, you should really do some research

          • TheBelltower

            They weren’t used. They were new and hadn’t sold. Don’t feel bad. There are unsold Bugatti Veyrons out there as well.

          • Kash

            and still no sources.

          • TheBelltower

            Sorry. You’ll have to find that for yourself. Otherwise, how would you be able to disregard what you don’t want to believe?

  • john1168

    I think it’s a good car and I would like to own one. Although I probably never will. I do have a big problem with the car though. I think the powertrain has wwaaaaayyyy too much going on. 3 electric motors, batteries, a 450hp TT V6…. With all this going on it better do 0 – 60 in 2.8 sec. Will it? Why am I guessing no… I would have much preferred to see this car with the 3.5TT kicking out 550+ hp with only the rear wheels powered through a DSG. Honda of all companies should be able to do that with a TT V6. Fords GT will have over 600. I realize that Acura is trying to be the “Tech” auto manufacturer. Let’s put as many chips, wires and electrons in their cars as possible. The GT-R is the same. The problem with that is that you lose a rawness or a visceralness that’s USUALLY inherent with a supercar. To be absolutely honest, I would have been more impressed with this NSX if it were all electric than the hybrid it is. THAT would have been a great “Tech” display for Acura and it would have contributed to their so called “green image” that they think they are trying to convey. And they wouldn’t have had to put EXHAUST FINISHERS on it like Acura HATES to do with all of their other vehicles. An all electric wouldn’t have been as visceral as a gas engine but it would have been simpler and more exciting for them. Again, I do like this NSX and I’m looking forward to seeing what it can do. But I have to wonder WTF is going on in the Acura Think Tank sometimes.

  • Six Thousand Times

    To be fair, the original NSX drew criticism for its appearance, too. Everyone called it anodyne or an amalgam of styling cues we’d all seen before.

    The thing was, what everyone loved about that first NSX was its purity. Its lightness, its directness, its ease of being an everyday driver as well as being a Ferrari fighter.

    Three electrc motors, a bunch of batteries, AWD, who knows how this new one will drive but I don’t really see this car as a worthy successor to the original.

    Seriously, THREE electric motors?

    • donald seymour

      So, I take it that you don’t like the 918 with all it fussiness?

      • NG212

        Or the P1, or LaFerrari, or the i8?

        • Six Thousand Times

          All out of my league but for you guys…enjoy!

      • Six Thousand Times

        Not really, no.

    • NG212

      Pretty soon, the GT-R and Supra will also be hybrids. I hope you repeat this criticism when those debut — for consistency.

      I just think it’s a new world. The NSX was an analog sports car because it was developed in the 80s. But it was built to be the most advanced affordable supercar available. It took risks with Vtec and aluminum construction.

      Let’s remember that NSX means New Sportscar eXperimental. The entire point of the NSX brand is to push the boundaries of modern technology while being cheaper and more drivable than rivals.

      If you’d rather have the old one, that’s cool. But I think that if this car were analog, it would have been anachronistic or retro. It would have worshipped the old car while betraying the ethos and concept of the NSX nameplate.

      This is 2015’s New Sportscar eXperimental.

      • Six Thousand Times

        If we get a new Supra then, yes, I’ll happily criticize it if it is weighed down and complicated by a hybrid setup. Same for the GT-R and the Lancer Evo. I’m delighted for someone like you who’s got the $150K to pay for four motors to do the job of one but the (cheap) engineer in me just can’t see his way clear…

        • donald seymour

          Okay, well put. However, I think you are over analyzing the situation. We must see engineering as a canvas and the car’s drive-train as a the medium or art. Meaning there many ways to go about doing something. We shouldn’t just rely on one method of doing something. I dare you to look up the MYT engine.

  • Jake

    “Channeling the original NSX” can mean more than just looking similar. Remember the original car featured some incredible technology (for the time) that was previously only available on cars that cost much more. It made that technology much more accessible. This car is doing exactly that: it’s bringing technology that was previously only available on the big-3 hypercars ‘to the masses’ in a way.

    IMO, this car is really being bashed unfairly by so many people. Honda people don’t like it because it’s not a carbon copy of the original, and other car people don’t like it because it’s a Honda, or because it’s too expensive, or it’s a hybrid, or whatever else. It’s really sad. It’s an attractive car, it’s packed with ground breaking technology for its price point, and it’s priced reasonably well for what it is. At least wait until it’s actually for sale before you declare it to be a failure.

    • Rick

      ..and I’d bet that most of the nay-sayers would change their tune if one showed up in the driveway. It’s getting to be where you can’t read for long on anything anymore before someone wants to piss all over it and you! What a world we live in!

  • klowik

    I don’t see the point of this car given this niche market already has some good competitors. Everyone already knows Honda can produce a great powerful engines for F1. There is no point to show it on such a blase model. Honda/Acura should concentrate on overhauling the styling of all their models rather than producing this niche car which has only a few sales per year.

  • CarolineFournier

    Its just an ordinary sport car. Nothing to compare to the old NSX.

    • Rick

      Ordinary! I think not!

  • Audios

    And they’ll sell every one. I’m all for less maintenance coming from a daily driven R8, having spent a large sum for out of warranty service. Thought about an i8 but this NSX might just be the ticket.

  • Miroku

    Nice looking car and a long time ago I was hyped for this car…but hybrid…no proper manual….meh…I’ll drive my FRS for now to experience the glory of japanese sports cars of the 90’s

  • TB

    Great breakdown. I was a major fan of the original NSX (my brother had 2 actually) because it was different, it had ground breaking lines and technology, and it was under 100K. It was something so thought out of the box at the time. Now…as you pointed out in your article…it’s a cookie cutter of what everyone else has been doing over the past 4 years. The technology, while being described as groundbreaking is just basically what everyone else is releasing (just branded differently of course…may be ground breaking at Acura but…). $155K? Yeah no…if I am spending that kind of money you had better tell me what the major differences are between the competitors (many these days) ride and the NSX that would be worth that cost.

    Bottom line: New? Yes. Improvement? Meh. Different – How? Cost – Really? Worth it? Doubtful.